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Preston City Council votes to end 77 year ban on selling liquor drinks in city limits

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PRESTON — Preston City Council members voted to end a decades long ban on selling liquor in drink within city limits.
The Preston City Council ended the ban at their April 22 meeting in a split decision, the tie broken by Mayor Dan Keller. This reverses a decision made 77 years ago when the community voted to deny business establishments the ability to sell liquor in drinks. However, the city has not been able to find any evidence the results were formally certified.
“There is no evidence the results were formally certified, which in the opinion of the council felt like this was basically a referendum, possibly a straw poll,” Keller said in an interview with “That’s the reason I made the decision to move forward. There’s no documentation that this appropriately occurred.”
In order to be official, the results of the 1947 election had to be certified by the county and the state, and when the city contacted the Franklin County clerk and the Secretary of State’s office, they could find no evidence that the certification happened.
For some on the city council, this called into question whether the ban should continue to be enforced. In January, the Franklin County Commissioners voted to approve liquor by drink following a public hearing.
Two businesses in Preston, the Owl Club and Tattles Bar and Grill, had made requests for a liquor license. They received approval from the state of Idaho before the commissioners made their vote, but they still needed approval from the city.
Trisha Montes, a co-owner of Tattles, said they often lost business when they weren’t able to serve a customer a mixed drink.
“People would come in and ask to order a Jack and Coke or something and we’d say, ‘We don’t serve liquor. We only have beer and wine’ and they would be like, ‘Oh, okay. Then we’re just gonna drive to Logan or we’re gonna drive to Malad or we’re gonna drive to Grace,’ like every surrounding county, 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there serves liquor,” Montes said.
Opinions on the legal validity of the 1947 vote differed. Montes’ attorney thought that without proper record, it wasn’t a valid vote. City Attorney Steven Fuller felt the safest legal option was to uphold the results of the election, and require that another one be held before any businesses received liquor licenses.
The soonest that a vote could’ve appeared before voters wouldn’t have been until November 2025, according to the Secretary of State.
“I’m not debating the Secretary of State, but my issue is we have some proprietors here,” Keller said. “They deserve an answer.”
Council members Brent Dodge and Chris Larsen both felt the city’s best option was to follow the legal advice provided by Fuller, while Council members Todd Thomas and Terry Larson saw the election as invalid due to the lapse in legal procedure and that it would be better to follow state law.
“To me, that invalidates that election. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but it invalidates it,” Thomas said.
“We should follow the legal counsel that we’ve hired. I know there’s interpretation that can be made of everything,” Larsen said. “But we’ve hired an attorney to make that interpretation.”
While the issue had become controversial on the city council, comments from the public didn’t reflect that. Rather, Keller said the public had a nonchalant attitude about the issue.
“Surprisingly, the comments were minimal and they have all been, I don’t want to use the word positive but I think dozens of people (said) ‘Just give them a license. Quit wasting your time, we don’t care.’ There were really no boisterous protests that we were on the verge of allowing this to happen,” Keller said.
Now that the liquor in drink sales are allowed in Preston, Tattles is now able to serve a full bar to its customers, and customers can choose whether they want a mixed drink or not.
“We noticed a huge difference last weekend. Obviously, it’s new so maybe the newness will fade off a little bit, but already we were able to cater to so many more people,” Montes said.
The post Preston City Council votes to end 77 year ban on selling liquor drinks in city limits appeared first on East Idaho News.

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